Below is a quote by Roger Scruton in his Introduction to “Leisure, The Basis of Culture” by Josef Pieper.
“Don’t just do something: stand there!” The command of an American President to a fussy official was one of those rare moments in American politics when truth prevailed over industry. Josef Pieper’s serene reflections on the art of being serene ought to be read by every practical person – and the more that person is involved in business, politics, the public life, the more useful will Pieper be to him. For here, in a succinct yet learned argument, are all the reasons for thinking that the frenzied need to work, to plan, and to change things is nothing but idleness under other names – moral, intellectual, and emotional idleness. In order to defend itself from self-knowledge, this agitated idleness is busy smashing all the mirrors in the house.
Leisure has had a bad press. For the puritan it is the source of vice; for the egalitarian a sign of privilege. The Marxist regards leisure as the unjust surplus, enjoyed by the few at the expense of the many. Nobody in a democracy is at ease with leisure, and almost every person, however little use he may have for his time, will say that he works hard for a living – curious expression, when the real thing to work for is dying.
The calumnies, however, do not apply: so argues Josef Pieper. We mistake leisure for idleness, and work for creativity. Of course, work may be creative. But only when informed by leisure. Work is the means of life; leisure the end. Without the end, work is meaningless – a means to a means to a means … and so on forever, like Wall Street or Capitol Hill. Leisure is not the cessation of work, but work of another kind, work restored to its human meaning, as a celebration and a festival.
Pat vC said:
Wow -what a beautiful post. It reminds me of the work of Dr. Conrad Baars – Catholic Psychiatrist. He stressed the importance of being over doing. In his later years 95% of his work was with religious and priests. His writings have changed the way I look at life – both individually and in relationships especially with my family. Thanks for posting this.